For many of our patients, the first time they’ve ever heard the term “endodontist” was when their general dentist referred them to our practice. Most people are familiar with orthodontics and oral surgery, but endodontics is a lesser-known dental specialization—in fact, less than three percent of dentists are endodontists. Read on to learn more about what endodontists do and what sets us apart from other dentists.
Specialists in Saving Teeth
While a general dentist mostly treats the visible portions of the teeth, endodontists diagnose and treat problems inside the teeth. In order to do this, endodontists receive two to three additional years of education and training after completing dental school. This education focuses on the dental pulp, root canals, and tooth pain.
Endodontists are known as the specialists in saving teeth often compromised by decay or dental trauma. Without endodontic treatment, the only option available for many patients would be to have diseased or badly damaged teeth extracted. If at all possible, saving your natural teeth is always the best outcome. Only your natural tooth combines the bone, gum and ligaments to give your bite a “natural feel”. While removing a tooth and substituting a dental implant may be a viable option if your natural tooth is not savable, retaining a tooth is better for your oral health, and it’s more affordable than having to pay for a dental implant.
Diagnosing Tooth Pain
One of the reasons a dentist might refer you to an endodontist is for the diagnosis of tooth pain. Often when there is no visible reason for a severe toothache, it’s caused by a very small fracture or crack that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Endodontists have advanced technology that most dentists do not have in their offices, including CBCT and surgical microscopes, allowing us to locate the source of your pain so it can be treated.
Once we find the cause of your tooth pain, we can determine the best course of treatment. Often, this is a root canal procedure.
Root Canal Treatment
Perhaps the most common reason for a referral to an endodontist is for root canal treatment. While some general dentists perform root canal treatment, it is the speciality of the endodontist. According to the American Association of Endodontists, the average general dentist performs two root canal treatments a week, while endodontists perform 25. This advanced knowledge and experience allows the endodontist to treat even the most complex cases. Endodontists also perform a number of endodontic retreatments and surgeries that are needed when a tooth that has already had root canal therapy requires additional treatment due to reinfection or other complications.
Root canal treatment allows us to save teeth that have deep decay or damage by removing infected or inflamed pulp and resealing the tooth. Despite their reputation, root canal procedures are more comfortable than most patients expect and are often used to relieve severe tooth pain. Patients usually leave our office feeling much better than they did when they came in!